My Secret to Great Inner Thighs
In the long tradition of bellies and triceps, the inner thigh is an area of frequent concern for many women. Whether you’re concerned about legs chafing when you walk or you simply notice that or you notice that it tends to be an overlooked area in your workouts, there’s a strong desire to “spot reduce” and “shrink the fat” in the inner thighs – also known as the adductors.
You’ve heard me say it before: There’s no such thing as spot reducing. You can’t simply shrink part of your body. What you can do, however, is a two-parter: First, you can lower your all-over bodyfat (which will in turn help you lose fat in the legs), and secondly, you can strengthen the adductor muscles, which will help tone and tighten up the area in question. Here’s how:
Start with the basics.
First things first: In order to lose fat in ANY area of your body, you’ve got to cut calories. Remember, the magic number is 250. For the average woman who takes in 3,500 calories daily, cutting 250 calories a day can lead to losing half a pound a week. Double that number by cutting 250 calories from your diet, AND shedding an additional 250 via moderate exercise every day, and you’ve upper that number to a pound a week. When you burn off more calories than you consume, that’s when you really start to hit the sweet spot – because your body relies on calories for energy during exercise. So when your body needs additional fuel to get going, it starts to pull that energy from the fat that’s stored on your body (including the fat found you-know-where).
Start P.U.P. Training.
Nothing revs up your body’s fat-burning engine like interval training. I often recommend my “P.U.P. Training” technique to women who want to lose bellyfat – but the same principle applies to the inner thighs. P.U.P. stands for “Pump Up the Pace,” a method that alternates moderate exercise with quick bursts of high intensity (also known as intervals). Not only does this type of training help you tap into your deeper fat stores, but certain types of high-intensity cardio like running can also do wonder for your thighs because they recruit your fast-twitch muscle fibers. Here’s a simple walk/run approach to the P.U.P. Technique that you can try today:
- Warm up for 4-5 minutes with a steady state walk
- For 90 seconds, walk with moderate intensity (at a 5 on a scale of 1 to 10, where 1 is easiest and 10 is going for broke)
- For 90 seconds, push to a level 7 – a fast-paced walk or a run if you can
- Recover for 90 seconds at a level 3 or 4
- Do another 90 second burst at level 8 – really push it!
- Recover for another 90 seconds
- Do one more burst – as fast as you can go without compromising good form – this time for just 30 seconds
- Repeat this cycle 5 times
- Cool down for 4 minutes with a steady state walk
Switch up your stance.
Resistance training is key for shaping up the lower body, but when it comes to which part of the legs and glutes you’re targeting, something as simple as your foot position can make all the difference. Take the standard squat, for example: Typically when performing this classic lower body fat-blasting move, your feet are a little more than hip distance apart. This is great for strengthening the quadriceps (front of the thigh) and toning the glutes. When the feet are a little closer together, you start to emphasize the outer thigh (or vastus lateralus). But if you just take a slightly wider stance, walking your feet out to a wider position, now you’re targeting the inner thigh. You can apply a similar technique to the lunge exercise. To do a traditional lunge, just take a nice big step in front of you, and bend the front leg to a 90-degree angle so that the back knee almost grazes the floor. To shift the focus to your inner thighs, just switch directions: Instead of lunging forward, lunge out to the side, taking a nice wide step out to the right, bending the right knee as your left leg stays straight out to the side. Lower the weight down into your right heel, keeping abs engaged and back straight, and push back up to standing, feet together. Repeat on the other side, and feel those adductors engage!
Go about your business.
There are so many ways to trim those inner thighs, whether it’s doing formal exercises or just shifting your focus to that area of the body throughout your day.
One of the best things about inner thigh exercises is that you can almost do them anywhere, anytime. Whether you’re at your desk or standing in line at the grocery store, there’s no excuse for not engaging your adductors. Take the office, for example: With a small fitness ball stowed away under your desk, you can use it to work the inner thigh muscles while you’re reading a report or on a conference call. Do the pulse & squeeze method: Holding the ball between your knees, start with 30 pulses, or “mini squeezes.” When you reach the end of that series, do a 30-second steady squeeze. And next time you’re in line at the supermarket, instead of slouching while you read the tabloids, try the standing slide method: Stand with your feet slightly wider than hip width apart, and when it’s your turn to move up in line, instead of just taking a step forward, shift your weight into the right foot, and slowly, slowly drag the left foot in to meet the right, feeling those inner thigh muscles engaged throughout the movement.
Do it now
For a quick and effective inner thigh workout you can do right here, right now, just try these moves:
The Gate Swing: Warm up with this great inner thigh activator. Standing on the right leg with your hands behind your head, lift your left leg off the floor. With your abs nice and tight, bend the left knee, and open that leg up and out to the left side, keeping the left foot flexed. And now bring that left leg in and across the body toward the right. Do 10 repetitions of this move before repeating on the right side.
Plie Squat: This is a classic, “bread and butter” approach to toning inner thighs. We talked earlier about how foot positioning makes all the difference when it comes to focusing on adductors. And this is where you apply that technique: Take a nice wide stance (wider than you would in a traditional squat), and turn your toes out to a 45 degree angle. As you lower your body down, instead of shifting your weight back behind you (as you would tend to do in a regular squat), imagine that you’re simply lowering straight down, and straight back up, keeping those knees nice and open so that you’re using those inner thigh muscles to stabilize you. Do 15 repetitions, keeping the movement slow and smooth.
Sumo Slides: Get an old towel and stand on a smooth surface for this one (hardwood or linoleum is great). You’re going to perform a Sumo Squat (similar to the plies described above), only this time, you’ll place a towel under your right foot. Squat down in a nice wide “sumo-style” stance, and as you push yourself back up to standing, at the same time, slide that right foot back in toward the left, using the towel to keep the movement nice and fluid. Repeat on the left, and aim for 20 repetitions on each side.
Squeezing Leg Lifts: If you’ve got a small medicine ball like the one mentioned above, here’s another great opportunity to use it. Lie on the left side, legs straight, with your right hand on the floor in front of you for support, and hold the ball between the ankles. Without letting your hips drop forward or behind you, lift both legs just a few inches off the floor, squeezing that ball throughout the move. Lower the legs back down, and without totally resting them on the floor, bring them back up again. Repeat 12 times, and switch sides.
So there you have it: There are so many ways to trim those inner thighs, whether it’s doing formal exercises or just shifting your focus to that area of the body throughout your day. Because when it comes to sculpting those adductors, remember: It all adds up.